This year’s Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded yesterday to Tomas Transtromer, a Swedish poet whose surrealistic works about the mysteries of the human mind have won him acclaim as one of the most important Scandinavian writers since World War II.
The Swedish Academy said it recognized the 80-year-old poet “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”
In 1990, Transtromer suffered a stroke, which left him half-paralyzed and unable to speak, but he continued to write and published a collection of poems entitled The Great Enigma in 2004.
“Waking up is a parachute jump from dreams. Free of the suffocating turbulence the traveler sinks toward the green zone of morning,” the poem reads. “Things flare up. From the viewpoint of the quivering lark he is aware of the huge root systems of the trees, their swaying underground lamps. But aboveground there’s greenery — a tropical flood of it — with lifted arms, listening to the beat of an invisible pump.”
Transtromer has been a perennial favorite for the 10 million kronor (US$1.5 million) award and in recent years Swedish journalists have waited outside his apartment in Stockholm on the day the literature prize was announced.
Transtromer’s most famous works include the 1966 Windows and Stones, in which he depicts themes from his many travels, and Baltics from 1974.
His works have been translated into more than 50 languages and have influenced poets around the globe, particularly in North America.
“He’s been writing poetry since 1951 when he made his debut and has quite a small production, really,” said Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the academy. “He’s writing about big questions. He’s writing about death, he’s writing about history and memory, and nature.”
Transtromer is the first Swede to receive the literature prize since Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson shared it in 1974.
Englund has said that the academy is especially cautious about awarding Swedish writers out of fear of being seen as biased.
“And so I think we’ve been quite thoughtful and haven’t been rash,” Englund said yesterday.
Since the 1950s, Transtromer has had a close friendship with American poet Robert Bly, who translated many of his works into English. In 2001, Transtromer’s Swedish publishing house Bonniers published the correspondence between the two writers in the book Air Mail.
Earlier this year, Bonniers released a collection of Transtromer’s works between 1954 and 2004 to celebrate the poet’s 80th birthday.
Born in Stockholm in 1931, Transtromer grew up alone with his teacher mother after she divorced his father — a journalist. He started writing poetry while studying at the Sodra Latin school in Stockholm and debuted with the collection Seventeen Poems at age 23.
He received a degree in psychology from Stockholm University and later divided his time between poetry and his work as a psychologist.
British bookmaker Ladbrokes said a surge of late bets yesterday had made Transtromer the 4-6 favorite for the prize.
“He was second favorite to begin with and stayed quite prominent throughout,” spokesman Alex Donohue said.
“This morning, he became the favorite after a surge of late bets, several of which were from Sweden,” he said, adding that the betting pattern was not suspicious. “The nearer you get to the event, there are always going to be people who have an idea of what is going on ... we’re certainly not suggesting anything untoward was going on.”
VITAL INDUSTRY: A war in the Strait would be a catastrophe, as Taiwan ‘lies at the heart’ of the world’s semiconductor industry, the magazine’s report said The government yesterday welcomed international attention on Taiwan’s security, saying that China is to blame for threatening regional stability, after a report by The Economist called Taiwan “the most dangerous place on Earth.” The report is featured on the cover of the magazine’s latest issue, which depicts the nation as the epicenter of a US-China rivalry. The cover shows Taiwan in a radar display with dots crossing the Taiwan Strait accompanied by a Chinese flag and dots nearing the east coast with a US flag. The US maintains a “one China” policy, while maintaining relations with Taiwan, but such “strategic ambiguity is breaking
HIGH-RISK GROUP: After the latest outbreak, family members of workers exposed to infection would from tomorrow be eligible for government-funded vaccines The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported four local COVID-19 cases: three family members of an infected worker at a quarantine hotel and a family member of an infected pilot. The new cases bring the number of infections involving China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) pilots and the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel, where many of the airline’s crew members quarantined, to 24. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said three of them are the husband, son and daughter of case No. 1,129, a woman in her 60s, who works at the hotel. The son is in
NEXT STEP? The contract chipmaker said it would decide whether to add more plants based on operation efficiency, cost economics and demand Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is planning to build several more chipmaking fabs in the US state of Arizona beyond the one already planned, three people familiar with the matter said. TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, announced in May last year that it would build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona. The 12-inch wafer fab in Phoenix is expected to start mass production in 2024, the Investment Commission said in December, when it approved the plan. Three sources familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that up
VIRUS CURBS: Visiting people staying at healthcare and long-term care facilities in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan is banned until May 17, the CECC announced The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday banned visits to patients or residents at healthcare and long-term care facilities in three cities until May 17. It also reported six imported cases of COVID-19 and two cases with unclear infection sources. As the number of locally transmitted cases rises, some of whom have visited many places in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan, enhanced disease prevention measures have to be implemented in the three cities, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. “Visiting people staying at healthcare and long-term care facilities in Taipei, New Taipei City and